NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship

Pierre Azoulay, Benjamin Jones, J. Daniel Kim, Javier Miranda

NBER Working Paper No. 24489
Issued in April 2018
NBER Program(s):Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Many observers, and many investors, believe that young people are especially likely to produce the most successful new firms. We use administrative data at the U.S. Census Bureau to study the ages of founders of growth-oriented start-ups in the past decade. Our primary finding is that successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young. The mean founder age for the 1 in 1,000 fastest growing new ventures is 45.0. The findings are broadly similar when considering high-technology sectors, entrepreneurial hubs, and successful firm exits. Prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of entrepreneurial success. These findings strongly reject common hypotheses that emphasize youth as a key trait of successful entrepreneurs.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24489

 
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